Back in the old days, Antica Osteria da Bepi, an inn set in the main square of Marano di Valpolicella, was the place where the country folk met after going to the market, so that they would have a good excuse to eat some of the tripe in meat broth made there, or salami with polenta, cooked over a fire that never went out. These dishes would always be served with a glass of good Valpolicella, as were their other, typical ones, such as tagliatelle, bigoli, long-cut pasta made by extrusion, and stracotto, braised meat that is still cooked following the same old recipe. The current restaurant managers are Vittorio and Camilla, who have chosen Frantoio Olive Castaldo, Turri’s select oil, for their cuisine. This extra virgin oil features prominently in this recipe, offered to us by Vittorio to celebrate these festive days!
Tartare of Italian veal rump with extra virgin olive oil
200 g veal round or rump, 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 2 lemons, 4-6 caper berries with stems, 4-6 fillets of sardines in oil, freshly ground salt and pepper, 10g balsamic vinegar cream, black bryony, 3 salad bowl lettuce leaves.
Using a good, sharp knife, cut the meat first into thin slices, then fine strips. The result of the knife work should be finely and evenly-chopped meat, but under no circumstance should it be reduced to a mush.
Place the chopped beef in a large bowl, add the juice of the lemons and the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add a pinch of black bryony and mix the ingredients quickly but gently. Shape by pressing the meat lightly inside a round pastry cutter or small bowl. Slice the salad leaves à la julienne, place them at the centre of a plate and lay the tartare steak on top. Garnish with capers and serve the balsamic cream and the sardine fillets in two side bowls.
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and a pinch of black bryony. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, so as to garnish the dish and enhance its flavour and… Bon appétit!